Food Worth Growing: ‘Pilar’ Squash

pilar squash aka zapallito redondo de tronco

I bought the seed for ‘Pilar’ aka ‘Zapallito Redondo de Tronco,’ an unusual squash variety two years back from New World Seeds and Tubers. I tried to direct-sow the seed outdoors twice in that first year, but was unable to coax a single seed to germinate. This spring I over-sowed indoors underneath light to be safe, and was successful with one plant. One single, glorious, phenomenal, plant!

pilar squash aka zapallito redondo de tronco pilar squash aka zapallito redondo de tronco

Normally I would bemoan such a poor germination rate, but there are so many factors to consider that I would never condemn a grower or a particular variety based on one experience alone. And to be honest, I am so pleased with the outcome, that the effort it took to get here is moot.

Let’s talk about the plant.

We eat a great deal of summer squash aka zucchini through their productive season (midsummer on), and I am always on the look out for new varieties to try. I especially seek more compact, bushing types that produce well in a small space. I was drawn to this variety due to its bushing habit and its usefulness as both a summer and winter squash. As a small space gardener I prefer two-for-one varieties that will function as a summer squash early in the season when harvested young and immature and can then be grown out to maturity towards fall, allowing for storage.

pilar squash aka zapallito redondo de tronco

Typically, my go-to 2-for-1 special is ‘Nice de Rond’ a much more compact, round, bush-type. I worried that ‘Pilar’ would be too much like it and opted not to grow it this year, but in fact, the two produce very different fruit and I could have grown both without overlap. When harvested young to be used as a zucchini, I find ‘Pilar’ to be unlike any other summer squash I have grown. The texture of the fruit is denser and less spongy than a typical summer squash. Davin’s reaction when I cut into it (without any prior knowledge) was that it would work well breaded and fried, and indeed, I have since learned that this is how it is commonly prepared in South America. So far, we have enjoyed it sliced thinly and eaten raw, and fried with rice and pasta, but we plan to experiment further as more fruit comes in this summer.

The Details:

  • Open-pollinated.
  • Bushing growth habit with a wide girth.
  • Maxima type squash (Most winter squashes are in this subgroup.)
  • Round fruit with minimal pumpkin-like ribbing.
  • Productive. I’ve been getting no less than 6 male flowers per day and the females (fruit bearing) are coming on strong.
  • Can be harvested immature (4 inches or less) and used as a summer squash, or allowed to mature and used as a winter squash.
  • Container Growing: I haven’t tried yet, but would suggest a very large container (16″+) for maximum yield.
  • Further Notes: Originally from Argentina.
  • The name, ‘Zapallito Redondo de Tronco’ translates to “Round Maxima-type summer squash”

Have you ever grown this squash variety? What did you think of it?

Gayla Trail
Gayla is a writer, photographer, and former graphic designer with a background in the Fine Arts, cultural criticism, and ecology. She is the author, photographer, and designer of best-selling books on gardening, cooking, and preserving.

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5 thoughts on “Food Worth Growing: ‘Pilar’ Squash

  1. I’ve about given up on squash. It’s a never ending battle with squash bugs in my garden. Last year was the first time anyone has ever grown pumpkins in my yard, but there they were. This year acorn squash and pumpkins came up in the compost heap, so I left them. The squash bugs found them, as well as some decorative gourds I planted near a fence. I catch them in the act (they are easy to catch when mating!), and scrap off the eggs (under leaves and on stems, and very easy to rub off), but they keep coming. Last year I lost nearly all the plants. I don’t grow summer squash. Maybe they don’t like those as well?
    I’m not going to bother with them at all next year. I don’t like squash anyway! I turn them all into puree for baking!

    Do you have a problem with squash bugs? What do you do?

  2. Oh, squash bugs! I saw entire population of the community garden (130 plots) being destroyed in one week! Wonderful plump leaves and fruit one week, and completely dead plants just in 5-8 days…

    I don’t grow winter squash (don’t have space), but with summer varieties it really helps if you plant them later in the season, like late June or early July. But I’m not sure if it will work with winter squash since they have really long growing season.

    Gayla, the Pilar squash is beautiful by the way! And compact too, I should consider it next year, even thought I’m really leaning towards a HUGE romanesco variety that produces unpolitated babies that are 6-8 inches long. I will only be able to grow one of those monsters though….

  3. I tried growing Trombone Squash this year which is an Italian sumer/winter squash. They too are more dense than my usual summer squash and grow to about 4 foot long! The are wonderful cut as french fries dipped in egg and panko then baked in the oven.

  4. We have been growing this squash for 5 or 6 years with less success each year due to squash vine borers, but we persist because this is the most delicious squash I have ever eaten.

    I don’t know why the squash is not grown in this country. Everyone I have shared it with likes it as much as I do.

    Thanks for listing a source for seeds. My seed saving may not always work. I am glad to have stumbled upon your website.

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